Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row, including tonight’s update on how Christmas Day commitments from Gee Scott and Elias Ricks could shape the Class of 2020.
Gee Scott commit puts Ohio State in strong position
After landing 4-star wide receiver Gee Scott on Christmas afternoon, Brian Hartline and Ohio State can turn a lot of 2020 recruiting energy toward just a select handful of players at receiver.
Two of those players will absolutely be St. John’s College High School (Washington D.C.) standout Rakim Jarrett and Catawissa (Pa.) Souther Columbia’s Julian Fleming. That duo is good enough to be considered by Rivals.com as the country’s top-two receivers overall, and each has been a major priority for Hartline and the Buckeyes for the last few months.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Hartline has proven himself to be a very capable recruiter in a short amount of time, and now his chops will put to the test as he tries to secure what could be a historically great receiver group for Ohio State.
As it stands, it’s reasonable to think that Ohio State could look to land somewhere between four and five receivers in the Class of 2020. And with Scott and Rockwall (Texas) 4-star Jaxon Smith-Njigba already committed, the heat can get turned way up on the country’s best players at the position. When that happens, Ohio State will hope Jarrett and Fleming can see Hartline’s vision as the next major wave of Zone 6 — a group similar to the 2014 class that saw Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry MçLaurin and Curtis Samuel all roll into Columbus together.
With Jarrett, the sell is fairly simple: Ohio State simply has no one on the roster like him when 2020 rolls around. He’s a player capable of playing outside, but one that would really excel in the slot and out of the backfield for the Buckeyes as they would look to create matchup problems for linebackers and safeties. Ohio State lost out on Rondale Moore and Wandale Robinson with that idea in mind in 2018 and 2019 — and yes, Jarrett is more polished as a receiver than each of those guys coming out of high school while still similarly explosive. That’s what Ryan Day and Hartline are looking for.
Then there’s Julian Fleming. Fleming is a traditional outside receiver in the mold of Austin Mack and Mike Thomas, a ballhawking, strong-bodied guy that can go up and win the one-on-one shots the Ohio State offense is designed to create.
Landing either Jarrett or Fleming will be a challenge, and there’s a lot of work to be done. But Hartline, in his first full recruiting cycle, has shown a unique ability to connect with young receivers because of Ohio State and NFL pedigree.
Maryland, Alabama, LSU and a host of others will come hard for Jarrett. The Terrapins, with new coach Mike Locksley bringing a previous relationship with Jarrett from his time at Alabama, can’t be counted out of this race.
Is a Rakim Jarrett commitment coming soon?
Ohio State has been in close contact with the aforementioned Jarrett since the summer. He is a young guy who instantly connected with Hartline, as did his mother, who is a Canton, Ohio native like the Buckeyes receivers coach.
But the 6-foot, 182-pound Jarrett is hard to figure out, even with close attention to his Twitter handle and his social media feeds. On Christmas Day, following a commitment from Elias Ricks to LSU, Jarrett suggested he’d have his own big news coming soon.
12.26.18…. 5pm 😬
— Rak (@RakimJarrett) December 25, 2018
Jarrett subsequently tweeted that he “can’t make everyone happy in this process,” seemingly indicating that there would be people unhappy with whatever news is coming on Wednesday.
What news is coming? That’s the debate. No one seems to know, and multiple sources I’ve spoken with on the Ohio State side of things do not believe a decision is pending — and neither do East Coast folks close to Jarrett and neither do people close to LSU.
Could everyone be wrong? Most certainly, so we’ll stay tuned to this as the day goes on.
Elias Ricks, LSU and how it could impact Ohio State
I remember meeting Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 5-star cornerback Elias Ricks for the first time this past summer, and I was instantly surprised at how congenial and social he was. The country’s top-ranked cornerback in the Class of 2020, Ricks spoke openly about his affection for Ohio State and a few other big-time programs. He listed LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and USC as some early favorites.
“They’ve produced a lot of first-round talent,” he said of Ohio State. “Denzel Ward was just out here yesterday, he’s one of my favorite college players and he got selected fourth overall. That’s a really big pick.
“Ohio State puts out a lot of top defensive backs. The way he played, he has good technique, he always has a hand on the ball. I have always liked Ohio State, so personally, him being a cornerback, that made him one of my favorite players.”
Ricks made a late summer visit to Ohio State but didn’t return in the season, and Urban Meyer’s retirement put the Buckeyes on the backburner a bit. Now he’s an LSU commitment and will work hard to bring in players from all over the country to Louisiana with him, including Rakim Jarrett, 5-star running back Kendall Milton and former Ohio State verbal Lejond Cavazos, a close friend of his.
“We never met face to face until Rivals 5-Star Challenge,” Cavazos told Lettermen Row earlier this season. “But we had been communicating through Twitter, Snapchat, etc., ever since then. It’s just been a great friendship that we’ve built up.
“Elias is like my brother now. I treat him like family, and I think the chances are really good that we can get him.”
Now it’s Ricks trying to do the getting, and that’s going to change the dynamic a bit for the Buckeyes. When it comes to Rakim Jarrett, though, it’s a little more interesting because he’s never been to campus with LSU. The Tigers also already have three 4-star 2020 receivers committed and are working hard to flip a fourth, Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel’s Koy Moore, from USC.
The dominoes are set up for 2020, and it will be very interesting to see how they fall from here.
Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.